Thinking back to those earliest days..... Norfolk Island was to prove invaluable as a second settlement, but not for the reasons that were intended. The plans for the pine masts and the flax came to nothing, but the flax venture is an interesting story on its own, which I would like to tell you about another day. Meanwhile the French had already come across the island just a few weeks before, and had sailed on, declaring it "fit only for angels and eagles!"
The trustworthy convicts who accompanied that first expedition worked hard to help establish the little settlement at Kingston town, and there was a period of time when their agricultural efforts even helped feed the main colony at Port Jackson, whe supplies from England were delayed. Many of them became free men, and received grants of land, which they cultivated very successfully. But within 20 years, the whole colony was moved to Tasmania.
It was in later years, particularly in the period of the second penal colony some 40 years after the first settlement that the island became a "hellhole", a place to which the worst of the convicts were sent. But that scene was far removed from the happy optimism we saw among our local actors today!!